Clockwork Bird Episode Four: Mallard

E-Liza: Hi Shelly, can I help you?

Shelly: Are all the files I have for the U-Co malpractice case are taken from Sophie Bennett’s computer?

E-Liza: Eighteen of the twenty six files in that folder are labelled ‘Taken from the personal computer of Dr Sophie Bennett’

Shelly: There are only eighteen?

E-Liza: That’s right. Can I help you with anything else?

Shelly: Yeah, I was wondering, can you tell me who made the complaint about U-Co that led to this case?

E-Liza: I’m afraid I don’t have that information, Shelly.

Shelly: What do you mean you don’t have that information? Who filed the complaint? Surely it’s on the report sheet.

E-Liza: I’m afraid I don’t have that information, Shelly.

Shelly: How can you not have it? Stupid machine.

E-Liza: I’m sorry, Shelly. Is there anything else I can help you with? I can give you a list of hints for what kinds of questions you can ask me.

Shelly: I don’t need a list of hints, I need to know who filed the complaint!

Dave: Everything alright?

Shelly: E-Liza is having a break down. She says she doesn’t have the information from the initial complaint that launched this case.

Dave: No? Weird.

Shelly: That’s not all, either. There are only the eighteen of these recordings from Sophie Bennett’s computer. The rest of the stuff in the case file is just lists of patient names. What about interviews? Where is the initial report?

Dave: There are no interviews.

Shelly: No interviews, no report? I know I’m not exactly a detective –

Dave: Well, there’s an understatement and a half.

Shelly: Surely there has to be more to it than all this.

Dave: There are the files you sent back to Taylor, the corrupted ones.

Shelly: But they were useless.

Dave: I know. But there is something here. I’m certain.

Shelly: There’s something else that’s been bothering me.

Dave: You don’t say.

Shelly: ‘taken from the personal computer of Dr Sophie Bennett’. There’s no sign of her personal computer in evidence, I checked on my way out last night. There’s the burned husks of the computers from the Huddau Bay facility but that’s it, and nobody is even close to recovering the information from them, if it’s even possible at all.

Dave: The files came to me like this, and then I got an email from the chief asking if I’d like a hand sorting through them, and here we are.

Shelly: Right.

Dave: Look. We have to tread carefully with U-Co. I know you’ve been poking around; you know nobody has successfully brought a case against U-Co to trial.

Shelly: I know.

Dave: So we take this information with kid gloves and we pick it to the bone until we know absolutely everything we can, and then we make a move.

Shelly: [deep breath] Dave, did you know?

Dave: Know what?

Shelly: Did you know Alice was on the tapes, when you let me come and help you with this?

Dave: Yes.

Shelly: Right.

Dave: That all?

Shelly: Yeah. I think so.

[Dave leaves]

Shelly: E-Liza, play the next Sophie Bennett file.

E-Liza: Playing now.


Alice: His eyes are open.

Sophie: It’s a reflex.

Alice: Bullshit.

Sophie: [sighs] I wish you were right.

Alice: Why? So you can carry on prodding and poking at him?

Sophie: Despite what you think of me, I do care about him.

Alice: Yeah, you seem all maternal.

Sophie: I did what I could for him. I took him out, to the beach. I let him sit outside, feel the rain on his face. I held his hand.

Alice: It wasn’t his hand. It was yours. The one you stuck onto him without his consent

Sophie: He consented! He signed the forms.

Alice: He signed forms letting his body be turned over for use in science after he died, he did not consent to be turned into the walking fucking dead!

Sophie: We didn’t! KNOW! You think I’d have done this if I had? You think I would have allowed it? It was a fluke! It was an accident!

Alice: You had no idea what you were doing.

Sophie: Of course I didn’t. You know how long I had dreamed of making a network of synthnapses good enough to repair brain damage? Do you understand how far fetched an idea, how unreachable that seemed to me? We were years away from getting anywhere close. It’s a fluke.

Alice: So he wasn’t dead.

Sophie: He was. He was gone, Alice. There was nothing. No brain activity. Nothing at all. He was alive because of the ventilator down his throat and nothing else. His brain was offline. He was a beating heart cadaver.

[long pause]

Alice: And you looked at him and thought, ‘I know, we could sell this’.

Sophie: That is not fair.

Alice: So explain to me how he ended up on the billboards.

Sophie: You know as well as I do that it was out of my hands.

Alice: There is always a choice, Sophie.

Sophie: Is there a choice now?

Alice: Of course there was.

Sophie: We are being held against our will, Alice.

Alice: Because I made a decision.

Sophie: Yes, exactly! You made a decision. Not me.

Alice: Oh, you made your call years ago when you decided to let them slather him with make-up and put him on the cover of Vogue. I thought I was going mad, when I first saw them. I thought, there is no way it could be the same man I saw on the beach, even though their faces were so similar. You know what tipped me off it was really him?

Sophie: The eyes?

Alice: [scoffs] No, not his eyes. The logo. I recognised it off the van that came for him, after I saw him on the beach. [pause] Oh, yeah. That’s wiped the smugness right off your face, hasn’t it?

Sophie: Alice, don’t.

Alice: It was actually the police I called. I don’t know what I was expecting them to do, but send a transit van to pack him into was not it.

Sophie: There was medical equipment in the back, it was really more of an ambulance.

Alice: Ambulances have windows. Sirens. Paramedics. Not armour cladding.

Sophie: He was dangerous.

Alice: Did you ever think that maybe he was dangerous because of what you were doing to him?

Sophie: Of course I thought that.

Alice: But you carried on.

Sophie: What else could I have done? Should I have left him? They would have carried on whether I was there or not. I wasn’t important. If I walked out, things would have been worse for him.

Alice: They might not have got this far without you.

Sophie: [sourly] You flatter me.

Alice: If they didn’t need you they wouldn’t have kept you here.

Sophie: They kept me because I could. I could keep him calm. If I talked to him, sometimes he would calm down. I could get him to be still. Quiet. That’s all.

E-Liza: End of recording.

Shelly: He was dead. Robin Jaeger was dead. She was right.

Dave: What?

Shelly: Nothing. It doesn’t matter.

Dave: Are you okay? You sound… shaken.

Shelly: No, I’m fine.

Dave: You’re not. Come on. I’ll make you a cup of tea.

[door opens and closes]

Shelly: [takes a breath] Jesus, Alice. You were right. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Christ, what the hell were they doing there? But it doesn’t make sense. He must have family. They must be. I can’t imagine. Mourning somebody, and then seeing them show up on a billboard…

Maybe it felt like a miracle, like someone they’d lost had come back from the dead. Though it doesn’t sound like he was receiving many visitors. [a deep breath] No. That’s just Alice talking. They were probably looking after him. Like Dr Sophie said, the van was more of an ambulance, and if he was in as much of a state as Alice says, then he needed one. They’re doctors. They know what they’re doing. I just need to –

[door opens and closes]

Dave: Milk and two sugars.

Shelly: Thank you. [sips tea]

Dave: I know this must be pretty hard on you.

Shelly: Yeah.

Dave: No news about Alice Jones, then, I take it?

Shelly: No. Nothing. I don’t think they’re even looking for her.

Dave: [slurps tea] Well. She wasn’t at the Huddau Bay facility when it burned down. The only human remains they found were already cadavers. All accounted for, apparently.

Shelly: Cadavers. As in, bodies donated to science?

Dave: Yes, why?

Shelly: Dr Bennett, in this recording, she says… hang on. E-Liza.

E-Liza: Hi, Shelly. Can I help?

Shelly: Play the bit of that last recording about the consent forms.

E-Liza: Playing now.

Sophie: He consented! He signed the forms.

Alice: He signed forms letting his body be turned over for use in science after he died, he did not consent to be turned into the walking fucking dead!

Sophie: We didn’t! KNOW! You think I’d have –

Dave: E-Liza, stop.

E-Liza: Okay. Stopping recording now.

Shelly: Dave?

Dave: Just. Be quiet a minute. I’m… I’m thinking.

Shelly: Alright.

Dave: It’s anecdotal. That’s it. It’s only anecdotal.

Shelly: It’s all anecdotal; they’re… fucking recorded anecdotes! That’s all we have.

Dave: I know.

Shelly: What do we do?

Dave: We carry on.

Shelly: But, Dave-

Dave: There are no laws being broken, not specifically, if they did really… if he came to them as a cadaver and they… There’s nothing we can do. Except. [he laughs] Medical malpractice. Right. I get it.

Shelly: What?

Dave: Never mind. We carry on, Shelly. That’s all we can do.

Shelly: Okay.

[laptop closing and opening]

Shelly: E-Liza, you’re recording, right?

E-Liza: I am.

Shelly: Great. Dave has gone. It’s almost nine. Taylor asked me out for a drink, but… I said no. I know it’s been a year since I broke up with Helen but. I don’t know. It still feels too soon. Especially with all of this going on, and I… [she laughs] What am I doing. You’re not. You can’t understand me, I know that. But this is all…

I feel alone, I guess. I suppose this was how she felt, before. I never understood that. She just always seemed so mad, with her noticeboards and her notebooks. I said she was paranoid, not just typing stuff up, but here I am. Making recordings on a police laptop to try and hide from the big scary company.

Dave is right about one thing, at least. This stuff, it’s all just anecdotes, and, well. Alice Jones isn’t exactly the most grounded and reliable source. What was she, after all? Just admin. She’s still missing, you know. No news. Nothing.

There’s been nothing new about the fire, either. You know, when I saw it all on the news, all those reports, ten fire crews needing to go out to put out the blaze, and now there’s nothing. Nobody died, I suppose. Hardly anyone was even injured. Alice is missing, but nobody seems to care about that. All they seem to care about is Robin Jaeger. He was supposed to be on Good Morning Britain but the slot got cancelled. They didn’t even apologise. They didn’t even bring it up. He’s missing, apparently, but, Well. There isn’t a report, not that Taylor could see. I suppose there wouldn’t be, if he’s legally dead.

Christ. What am I even saying? I don’t even know if that’s true.


I should go home, feed Bertie. He gets all squeaky when I get home too late.

He’s a guinea pig.

Christ. I’m talking to a computer about my guinea pig, I need to go home.

[laptop slams]